Most cooks know that one of the most dependable tools they can have in their kitchen is the cast iron pan. Whether preparing food at home or in a restaurant, a cast iron pan's signature superpower is evenly distributing and retaining heat across its cooking surface — making them ideal for searing meat — not to mention the fact that you can usually stick them right in the oven for continued cooking off the flame. Best of all, they can last for exponentially many more years than so many other pieces of cookware. But if you want to get the most out of your pan's life, you've got to season it.
But what exactly is seasoning? All this term means is baking (or otherwise heating) oil onto the cast iron, a process which bonds the fat to the metal through polymerization (via Lodge). Raw cast iron, which is gray in color, will take on a shiny black coating after being properly seasoned, and that coating will render the pan nonstick — more and more so over time as the pan is seasoned each time you cook with it (via Taste of Home). Although many reputable cast iron pans, such as those from American manufacturer Lodge, come pre-seasoned, it's as simple as pie to season a raw cast iron pan at home. All you need is the right kind of oil. Tagine Moroccan Pot
Seasoning cast iron, according to cookware manufacturer Lodge, entails bonding fat to the metal's surface using high heat. Typically, this process is achieved using the oven. According to Taste of Home, a raw cast iron skillet can be scrubbed clean, dried, brushed with vegetable oil, and then heated in a 350 F oven for an hour, after which it will be seasoned and ready to use. Alternatively, according to MasterClass, you can rub the pan with oil and heat it on the stovetop to season it.
Casting Iron Big Size Wok As both of these seasoning methods involve quite a bit of heat, you're going to want to choose a high smoke point oil — and one that also has a neutral taste that won't flavor what you're cooking — when you're seasoning cast iron. According to Lodge, some of the best oil choices include safflower, rice bran, soybean, peanut, corn, sunflower and canola oil. As Lodge also notes, lard — rendered pig fat — was traditionally used to season cast iron cookware, and that's also a good choice as long as you use the pan frequently. Otherwise, if the pan is stored too long without use, the fat can go rancid and add off flavors to your food.